Mets shouldn’t worry about a crowded outfield when Yoenis Cespedes returns

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Michael Conforto #30 and Juan Lagares #12 of the New York Mets celebrate after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field on April 25, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Michael Conforto #30 and Juan Lagares #12 of the New York Mets celebrate after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at Citi Field on April 25, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The New York Mets don’t need to worry about an overcrowded outfield. A lack of depth will hurt them far more.

Perhaps the least worrisome roster crunch the New York Mets need to concern themselves with is what happens when Yoenis Cespedes returns in 2019. Some have suggested adding an outfielder this winter would create an issue in the future. Have they not watched the past two years of Mets baseball?

Last year, the outfield situation got so bad we were forced to watch Dominic Smith in left field. Injuries to Cespedes, Juan Lagares, and Jay Bruce created an issue. A lack of depth in the minor leagues made it even more troublesome when the outfielders fell like flies.

Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo did help make up for whoever joined them in the outfield. However, with one of them often taking over in center field where they are at their weakest, the situation was often well below average.

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The Mets could conceivably begin the year with Conforto, Nimmo, and Lagares as the outfielders. Add in Adam Jones, A.J. Pollock, or another option (I’ll let you pick) and now we have four men to patrol the grass beyond the infield dirt.

Smith isn’t someone I want to see out there for even an inning. That experiment is a failed one. Jeff McNeil has a chance to learn the outfield, but he will serve the Mets better as an infield utility man instead.

Let’s say they begin 2019 with Conforto, Nimmo, and another true starter on the big league roster. Cespedes returns in mid-July and suddenly, there’s a little less room. What’s to stop the Mets from making a trade before the end of the month to open up some room?

This is all contingent on Cespedes actually coming back before then. I have my doubt we see him at all in 2019. And if we do, what’s to say Conforto, Nimmo, or our third starter nabbed in the offseason are even healthy at that time?

Personally, I don’t view Lagares as a starter. He’s a platoon player who can serve best in an outfield with two really good offensive players. I wouldn’t even consider regular time on the bench for him as a bad thing.

One way they could conceivably get all of these bats in the lineup would be to use first base. By the time Cespedes comes back, we all assume Peter Alonso will be up. Who can guarantee he’s hitting well?

Hypothetically, with a right-handed hitter in center field, the Mets could get everyone plenty of at-bats and more quality ones. Conforto and Nimmo can play almost daily against righties with someone else taking a breather in those games.

Next. 2019 Mets Opening Day first base options

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The fear that everyone stays healthy and productive therefore stealing opportunities is a silly one to have. The Mets need depth and security. Adding a proven outfielder to the mix gives them this.